Prepared by: Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organisation in conjunction with the Nuba Food Security Working Group (NFSWG)

Date: 25.01.01

The Government of Sudan (GoS) has launched an offensive targeted the civilian population living in Buram County. Fighting began in March, 2000 and continues up to today. During their offensive, the GoS troops captured civilians, burnt houses, harvested their crops, looted stores of food, livestock and other assets; and destroyed what they could not take. In the earlier offensives, people fled to the remaining safe areas within the county, and sought refuge in Western Kadugli and Nagurban County. The GoS offensive launched in December has targeted more payams of Buram and extended into Western Kadugli. Though relatives and other hosts have tried to support the people displaced, they are not able to address their scope and levels of needs including food, shelter and other essential goods and services. Compounded by a poor harvest across the region and a lack of access to markets, the burden of support falls on humanitarian relief. Since the December attacks, there have been no humanitarian interventions.

The GoS continues to blockade humanitarian agencies from accessing the civilian population living in SPLM controlled areas. They have achieved this by denying flight clearance to the UN and NGOs and by creating insecurity around airstrip and routes to airstrips. Though there are some planned interventions by the NFSWG, they are not sufficient to address the escalation of needs across the region and are further limited by the continuous GoS insecurity. The lack of local and external support and the continued GoS offensive has left most of the displaced people destitute, forcing some migrate to GoS controlled areas for food and shelter and other essential goods and services. Without a change in humanitarian access and an immediate and significant humanitarian response, the situation will continue to worsen.

Food Security Context
Over the last two decades, the people of Nuba have been forced off the fertile plains where they cultivated and grazed their cattle to the poorer soil and pasture of the mountains. The peak of their displacement occurred in the early nineties as a result of the GoS scorched earth policy.

By the late nineties, the main areas still capable of producing surplus grain in the Nuba Mountains were Buram, Delami, and Lagawa Counties. As shown in Map 1, Delami's surplus was accessed by northern Heiban; Buram's and Moro's surplus was accessed by southern Heiban and Nagurban; and Lagawa's surplus going to parts of Dilling to Arab traders. This interdependent relationship was essential to support people living in areas that had become both structurally poorer and affected by insecurity.

Map 1

Nagurban and Heiban Counties are structurally the poorest areas. This is due to their high population density; poor and progressively more exhausted soil for cultivation; and limited access to grazing areas. All of this was created by the GoS, forcing the displacement of the civilian population into the mountains and keeping them under siege.

2000/2001 GoS Offensive
On March 17th, 2000 GoS attacked Tabanya Payam displacing an estimated 15,000 people. On May 6th the GoS attacked Fama, Shatt Safiya and Lado Payams displacing an estimated 14,000 people within the SPLM controlled areas while killing some and capturing a few thousand. In both attacks villages were surrounded and raided. The GoS used the civilians and workers taken from their towns to harvest the crops and loot the stores of food, livestock and other assets. The food was loaded onto trucks and transported back to the GoS garrison. What they did not take, they destroyed, burning homes and other structures. Most of the people, who escaped, carried little or nothing with them.

As the Map 2 indicates, the first attack displaced people mainly into Nagurban County and in the second attack the majority of people took refuge in Kululu Payam. The people captured by the GoS were taken to Kadugli.

Map 2: Buram and surrounding counties

The GoS maintained control over the areas they captured while surrounding and continually shelling Kululu Payam. In December, they increased their offensive taking control the remaining areas of Kululu Payam, Daroka in Buram and Korongo in Western Kadugli. The assault followed similar tactics used in the earlier attacks. In total, this last offensive displaced an estimated 9,000 people into Nagurban and another 2,000 further into Western Kadugli.1

Displacement within SPLM Controlled Areas
These attacks have left the majority of Buram people destitute. Those who fled within the SPLM controlled areas are unable to find sufficient food and other essential goods and services either locally or from humanitarian agencies. This is for several reasons:

Hosts and relatives are unable to support them - the areas hosting the people displaced depended on Buram's surplus grain to cover their needs. As stated above Nagurban County is structurally the poorest in the region. This is further compounded by low and sporadic rainfall last year making this years harvest even lower than normal. Though some people displaced received land, a lack of agricultural inputs last year; the need to secure food which competed with cultivation; and poor rainfall left them with little to no harvest. Gifts from relatives and hosts, and working for food have helped only a little and are far from addressing their total food needs. In addition, hosts have the minimum if not insufficient non-food items to loan or give like cooking pots and blankets. As this year progresses, food stocks for the people displaced will continue to be exhausted.

No clear surplus grain areas - the other surplus areas highlighted in Map 1 suffered from very low and sporadic rainfall which significantly reduced their harvest. In general, all counties in the region do not have sufficient grain to cover their needs up to the next harvest. Even if there was sufficient grain, insecurity and the distance to these markets prevents people from reaching these areas.

Restricted access to formal food and non-food markets - the main formal markets for food and non-food goods are controlled by the GoS. This limits the number of people who can go to these markets. For those who do manage, the prices are exploitive, taking advantage of the desperate situation. The amount of food in the local markets is insufficient for reasons stated above.

Insufficiency of the planned interventions - though NFSWG and other agencies distributed some food and non-food items in 2000 to the people displaced, it was insufficient in scope and degree to cover their emergency needs. The current interventions planned for 2001 does not accommodate for the extreme escalation in fighting compounded by a generally poor harvest across the region. The food security interventions depended mainly on securing local surplus grain and seeds for internal redistribution. For the reasons stated above, this may not be possible, especially to the same degree. Though the projects will be adjusted, they will still not be sufficient to address the extreme rise in people's needs. Regardless, with only a few safe airstrip in the region, insecurity and distance will make it impossible to reach the Buram people without putting them at great risk or further displacing them, increasing their destitution.

GoS blockade on humanitarian access into SPLM controlled areas - the GoS is preventing access to humanitarian relief in three main ways:

Forced Migration into GoS controlled areas
In addition to the people captured, hunger and general destitution have force many to migrate to GoS controlled areas, especially Kadugli. For the reasons stated above, they have been unable to survive with their relatives and other hosts in the SPLM controlled areas. The GoS supports humanitarian interventions in locations under their control (appealing for additional relief for Buram people in Kadugli). While blockading humanitarian relief to SPLM controlled areas, they are able pull in this destitute population. As the year progresses, even if insecurity stabilizes more people will be forced into camps unless there is balanced and sufficient support into the SPLM controlled areas.

Following a prolonged offensive by the Government of Sudan against the civilian population of Buram County, the population has become destitute. The people who were not captured by the GoS are increasingly unable to survive in the SPLM controlled areas where they sought refuge. The poor situation of their hosts, the lack of access to food and non-food markets, and the Government of Sudan blockade of humanitarian relief through insecurity and flight denials have forced many people to move to Kadugli, under their control. Without a humanitarian intervention into the SPLM areas, more people will be forced into GoS camps or they will starve.

Over the last two decades the Government of Sudan has systematically taken control of the fertile areas once cultivated and owned by the Nuba people. The current offensive into Buram and restrictions on humanitarian interventions are a continuation of this policy. Still under threat are the remaining surplus areas around Lagawa and Delami County. If these acts of violence against civilians continue and amends are not made, the Nuba people' will lose their lives and livelihood.

- International community to pressure the Government of Sudan to allow balanced humanitarian support to reach the war-affected civilians regardless of their political affiliation.
- UN and international NGOs to provide material support for the people displaced including: (2)

- International Community to pressure the Government of Sudan to halt violence against civilians and return their occupied land.

1. These figures represent people who have been registered. The true figure is higher, as not all displaced people have been identified.
2. As registration of the displaced people and a broader assessment of needs is ongoing, quantities for the listed items will be provided shortly.